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After Effects - Animated Infographic Video & Data Visualisation

How to use Excel to create an data visualization bar chart in After Effects

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hey there, in this tutorial we're going to take this data over here, we're going to turn it into a Graph. Then we'll do some basic Styling, then fire it into After Effects. And make it look like this. And it looks amazing. You're impressed, huh? Let's go and look at how to do that in After Effects now.

So first up, we need to open up, in our 'Exercise Files', under '03 Bar Graph', open up the one that says 'Caffeine Data Excel'. If we don't have a copy in Excel, we're kind of stuck, skip on to the next version. But in Excel, whatever version opens up-- I'm on an old version of a Mac Excel, all I need to do is select all the Data and we're going to go to 'Charts'. You'll find the Charts a little bit different in the newer versions, not much different. Click on 'Charts'. And kind of somewhere in the middle, on my one, it's at this end here, I'm going to pick on 'Column'. And pick any of these ones. The 3D ones become very hard to animate convincingly so stick to the 2D ones for me. I'm going to click this 'Clustered Column'. And that my friends, is an Excel spreadsheet.

Grab the edges of it, drag it right out. And we're going to do our adjustments in here. Why do we do it this way? I'll do it this way if I'm already given a Graph. Say that I'm handed a Graph, and it's done in Excel, there's no point trying to recreate it in Illustrator because somebody's put the time and effort into it here. So things that I might change in this is, I'm going to go through and change the fonts that would be used. So I can go through now, go to 'Home', and pick a 'Font'.

Now I definitely need to change all of this. Actually I'm going to just click off, click on the edge of it. We can change kind of Global changes. So I'm going to click on here, and pick 'Arial' for all of mine. Why? Because, if I use Calibri, I don't why, my computer makes a mess of it when it goes into Illustrator, yours might do the same. So you might have to change your Font, I'm going to pick 'Roboto Black'. And in here, we can go change colors. There's lots you can do in Excel. So if you're confident in Excel, go and make this thing look as good as you want.

The one thing you might do is the colors here, so I'm going to select on these, go to this one that says 'Format', and in here, I'm going to go to 'Fill'. And what colors? You can pick any color. And if you've got a corporate color you need to click on 'More Colors'. And in here you can go to the 'RGB Sliders'. And type in your RGB or your Hexadecimal code. We're going to use this color, because I like it.

Now how do we get it into After Effects to start animating? We need to do a bit of hop in through Illustrator. So lot of what we did in the last tutorial is going to apply here. So we're going to copy it, so select the outside. Just go 'Edit', 'Copy'. And then open up Illustrator. We're going to make a 'New' document. And it's going to hopefully remember my last dimensions. Click 'Create'. Then all I do is hit 'Paste'. And that brings in a Vector version of Excel. That's really cool. I know we're doing Infographic here, and animating them but this can be really cool if you're just doing print stuff. You want to be able to edit it from Excel rather than just relying on sometimes the questionable styles from Excel. You can go and edit it now in Illustrator and stick it into a print document.

We're going to animate ours, I'm going to make mine a bit bigger. And what I want to do now, it's a couple of things. There's a little bit different. It's kind of made up of all sorts of weird parts now, so I'm going to select on this guy here and we need to get these guys on their own layer. I also need to get rid of the stuff in the background. There's some weird drop shadows that I need to get rid of. Let's get these guys on to their own layer first.

Let's open the layers panel, 'Window', 'Layers'. This is exactly like we did a second ago. And have them selected and you'll see in here, they're actually called a Clip Group. So I'm going to right click it, and say 'Release from this Clipping Mask'. And then I click on one of them. They're actually still part of a compound group. I can tell which one they are, because, watch this, if I select on them, can you see this little thing highlights, makes it easy to find. Right click them, 'Release from Compound Path', and there are all of our groups. Here we are.

Cool, so what I want to do is get them on their own layers. I have layers already. That's because I was cheating and playing around with this before, and practicing. So what you need to do is, create Layers, 1-6 for the different Bar Charts. I'm going to come down here and I need to drag them off, this can be painful because you'll have to go up here. What you can do is have them all selected, holding 'Shift'. I'm grabbing all of these guys, right click them. Say 'Arrange', 'Bring to Front'. And they end up at the top of this list here making it a little bit easier. So here's this one. I should name these layers but like I said before, if I'm honest, I never do it. All these guys are on their own layers. What I might do is turn these guys off, and get rid of this amazing thing.

You can animate these together if you want to bring them through on to those layers. I just want to get rid of them because I don't like them. Turn these layers back 'on', hit 'Save'. I'm going to call this one 'Coffee Chart' but I'm going to call this one my 'Excel' version. Click 'OK', let's jump into After Effects. So just like we did in the previous tutorial, I'm going to 'Import'. And I'm going to go, this Excel. It's going to say 'Composition', I'm going to say 'Yes'. I'm going to say, Layer Size, 'Yes'. I'm going to click 'OK'. I'm going to open up 'Bar Chart'. So where is it? 'Coffee Bar Chart - Excel'. Here he is.

This little white box has come through. It's up to you, you could delete that in Illustrator but I'm just going to match the background colors. So I'm going to go 'Layer', 'New', 'Solid'. You my friend are going to be, it can't be off-white, because I need to match the white from Excel. Click 'OK'. I'm going to right click it, call it 'Background'. I'll send it to the back, lock it. And now we've got our paths to start animating. So let's do it.

'Layer 1' is actually going to be called-- I'm just going to call it 'Axis'. I say I never rename them, I just want to make it easy for you to follow. So Layer 2, I'm going to grab my Anchor tool. I'm going to hold down my 'Command' key on a Mac, or 'Control' key on a PC. I'll drag the center points through the middle bottom. Make sure they lock in. Now this first one here, I'm going to open up my Scale, 'S' for Scale. Start the stopwatch. And I'm going to break the link. Go down to '0'. Come along, about 7 frames. And go up to 100%. I'm going to select both of these Keyframes. Hold down 'Option' on a Mac, or 'Alt' on a PC. And I'm going to paste in my Overshoot Code. Here we are.

Remember, like before, we're going to grab these two Keyframes. I'm going to select this, paste you. Now, what I didn't do is I didn't move my Play Head to the beginning. So if I look at this-- can you see? It didn't work at all anyway. But watch this, if I click 'Copy' and I click on this one, and go 'Paste' it pastes wherever my Play Head is. It's going to make sure your Play Head's back at the beginning. Then click on it, go 'Paste' you. Does it have anything? 'Paste' you. All right, select them all, you, you. Collapse them all just to make them look pretty. Select all the Layers. And we're going to go up to 'Animation', 'Keyframe Assistance', 'Sequence Layers'. I'm overshooting mine by 420. If you're unsure what I'm doing here because you've just jumped into this video, watch the previous one where we go through a bit more detail on these things.

Nice, I might add a Vignette, I might do the Motion Blur. But for the moment, that is how to animate an Excel document. You still need Illustrator to break it up into its own layers. But it's not too much of a big step. So that's going to be it for our Bar Charts. Let's go and look at Line Charts now. Exciting.